Wednesday, 2 October 2013

VK's Birthday

29th September 2013

Even though it was a Sunday we had class by P. Its our documentary module that's going on now and this class was going to be on proposal writing. We would also watch Deb Banerjee's 'interview' and later a Buena Vista Social Club, a documentary by  Wim Wenders. 'Interview' was an exercise in which we had to extract the most information by talking, from any person of our choice. I had done two, one with the main chef at a Malayalee restaurant nearby and another with Kishore, a recovering drug addict I met in Sudder street. 

I have not been staying in G 202, my room in the second floor for some time now. A senior and friend, DH, also a Malayalee was going on a long trip and his room was going to be vacant. I had been dying for a single room and a space of my own so I jumped upon this opportunity and asked him to let me use his room during this time. He agreed and ever since that I have been using his room which is in the ground floor. So VK became my temporary neighbour. Thats how I asked him for a camera to click the sketches for the blog posts etc. 
VK is a student of Editing, but had been attending most of our documentary classes because he intends to be a documentary film maker. He talks a lot. Yesterday I was up till 4 a.m and wasn't sure if I'd be able to get up to be in class on time, especially with my phone gone and no customary call from my mother to wake me up. So before going off to sleep I had asked him to knock on my door in the morning if I wasn't up. It was a wise move. For the class at 11, I got up hearing his knock at 10. 30. 

When I reached the department five minutes past 11, VK was the only one there. So we decided to have tea. Vimal da was not open because it was a Sunday and we decided to go to the hardworking's. [Hardworking's are a couple who run a tea shop nearby and are called that by me and NN because they open early in the morning and shut late at night. In Kolkata, 10 p.m is pretty late for a shop to shut]. Just beside the hardworking's is a poori shop which is open just for a couple of hours in the morning and sells poori sabji. VK had breakfast there. He also gave me money for my tea because I was broke with my wallet being lost.  
On the way to the tea shop VK told me that it was his birthday the next day. Somehow I felt like giving him a birthday gift. After coming here I had not given anyone except NN a gift on their birthday. I rarely do that with friends anyway. To NN six months after her birthday I had given an old and pirated copy of 'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint- Exupery. I love that book. My own copy was a gift from my sister. In it, she had written, 'To my little princess'. In the one I gave NN I wrote 'Don't burn this when we fight'. Gifts are good, I feel. 
Anyway I couldn't buy VK anything even if I wanted to because I was broke, and so I decided to make him a birthday card. 

There are a few turning points that happened as far as my take on movies and film making are concerned after coming here. Some classes by some professors, a book I read [Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson] and a few movies I watched. Some of them are 'Elippathaayam [The Rat Trap] by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, The Piano Teacher by Michael Haneke and The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni. The Passenger was the most recent one. I was so moved and influenced by that movie that for this assignment called 'study of a director' that we have to do this semester I picked Antonioni as my director. The penultimate shot in that movie is very famous for a lot of reasons. You'll know some of them when you watch it. I am told that with the technological advancement in cinematography, today its a cakewalk to do that shot. But he did it at a time when all that was not possible and made an extremely long crane and everything just for this. Yes, you can do such things if you have a benevolent producer like Carlo Ponti.


To prepare for the 'study of a director' assignment I had lent a book called 'Antonioni or The Surface of the World' by Seymour Chatman from the institute library. Its pretty good. In it was a photo from the shoot of the movie which showed the enormous crane and the set they had built. I made a card with a sketch of this as the cover. It looked like this.

VK's girlfriend B Roy was there when I went to give the card. She was going to take him out for dinner at a surprise place. She also surreptitiously gesticulated to me that there was going to be a surprise birthday party for him at midnight. Its good to watch people in love. I hope I'll get some cake at night. VK seemed happy with the card. So did B Roy. I wrote in it to VK, 'Go through the bars and beyond the window'. Watch the shot and you'll know. 

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